The French distributor of Catherine Corsini’s Cannes 2023 Palme d’Or contender has lashed out at local media over its coverage of misconduct allegations linked to the film and also levelled criticism at the country’s National Cinema Centre (CNC).
Le Pacte CEO Jean Labadie reportedly sent a press release to French media outlets on Wednesday afternoon criticizing “the media sphere” for its coverage.
Deadline requested a copy of the release but has not received a reply from the press attaché or Labadie.
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“The controversy that followed has resulted in the film being invisible ahead of its release is in 15 days. Despite generally positive reactions to the film from a proven and recognized filmmaker, we see that the film risks little media coverage or nothing at all,” the statement is reported to have read.
Homecoming was at the heart of a media storm prior to the Cannes Film Festival amid reports about a lack of safeguarding of minors as well as the mistreatment of crew member and young actors on set in Corsica.
The Cannes Film Festival put a promised 2023 competition slot for the film on hold for a time while it investigated the matter internally, before finally announcing its inclusion a few days after the main line-up announcement.
The local media reports of the allegations were published after the film was not announced alongside the rest of the films.
Corsini and producer Perez published an open letter vehemently denying the allegations, while the film went onto play to acclaim in Cannes. Read the Deadline review here.
In his release on Wednesday, Labadie suggested that fear of being associated with a scandal had deterred potential media partners from getting involved in the film.
He also accused the media of not properly investigating the case, saying the allegations were “unfounded, unjust and defamatory”.
French newspaper Liberation, which was the first newspaper to publish an in-depth report about the rumors swirling around the production, rebuffed Labadie’s suggestion that the media had not made an effort to properly research the facts.
“Our journalist Anne Diatkine thoroughly investigated the conditions on the stormy shoot for weeks,” it wrote. “She also wanted to meet Elisabeth Perez and Catherine Corsini in aim to check, even contradict, the various testimonies. But at that time, they simply did not want to meet her or answer her questions,” it wrote.
The paper also pointed to the fact Wednesday’s release also included a series of answers from Corsini and Perez to questions fielded by investigative news website Mediapart on the allegations, as sign that other news outlets had tried to do in-depth research too.
Labadie’s release also alluded to the CNC decision to take back $513,000 in state funding. The move happened after its commission overseeing productions involving minors expressed concerns over the way in which the production had dealt with a masturbation scene involving a young actor.
The issue with the scene, which was cut from the film prior to the media storm, was that it had not been declared to the commission prior to the shoot.
Although no individual complaints were lodged against the production or Corsini on any count, the CNC was obliged to report the incident to the Prosecutor’s Office under its protocols, which automatically triggered the withdrawal of the funds.
Perez said that the omission of the scene from a script submitted as part of the funding application had been an administrative error. Corsini has also said since that she would use intimacy coordinators on set in the future.
The CNC also rebuffed Labadie in a curt statement on Thursday, which is an unusual move for the body which rarely publicly wades into controversy.
“This communication is marred by various errors, factual or of interpretation, but which engage only their author and which do not call for any particular comment on the part of the CNC,” it read.
“On the other hand, the CNC wishes to denounce with the greatest vigor the affirmation according to which “the CNC proposed to cut the incriminated scene”. This is not based on any element of truth and can be qualified as misleading and defamatory,” it continued.
“Freedom of creation is the basis of the action of the CNC, which refrains from influencing, for any reason whatsoever, the content of the works it will support.”
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